ANCHORAGE — During his first three seasons with the Wasilla High School baseball program, Clancey O’Donnell paid his dues. This year, all of O’Donnell’s work has been paying off for the Warriors.
Thursday, O’Donnell struck again.
The senior used three hits and four RBI to lead Wasilla to a 10-3 win over defending state champion Juneau-Douglas during the ASAA/First National Bank State Baseball Championships quarterfinals at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.
“He was stuck behind Ben Werner for three years of high school,” Wasilla head coach Ken Ottinger said, referring to Werner, a former Wasilla standout at first base who graduated in 2018. “(Clancey) patiently waited, spent hours in the weight room, spent many hours in the cage. The kid just worked and never complained. Now it’s his time.”
O’Donnell, a standout at first base, finished 3 for 4 at the plate. Ottinger said O’Donnell may have the biggest heart of anyone he’s ever coached.
“He’s unselfish. He’s always played his role,” Ottinger said.
Now, O’Donnell is Wasilla’s leader on the field, Ottinger said.
“He’s the leader on this team. He’s always been quiet, but this year he barks. He’s a coach on the field,” Ottinger said.
O’Donnell lifted the Warriors early. In the top of the first, Wasilla’s top three in the order — Jacob Hansen, Nolan Murphy and Clayton Boyett — each drew a walk to load the bases. O’Donnell, Wasilla’s clean up hitter, gave the Warriors a 3-0 lead with a bases-clearing double.
“The senior came to play,” Ottinger said of O’Donnell. “That first inning was a very big stress reliever. It takes a lot of pressure off your pitcher, allows you to settle in and know you don’t have to be perfect.”
Murphy, Wasilla’s starter, worked six innings for the Warriors, allowing only four hits and two earned runs. The right-hander fanned five and walked three.
“He did a great job. He gets stronger as he goes,” Ottinger said of Murphy.
Clayton Boyett finished 2 for 3 for the Warriors, scored three times and drove in a run. Waylon Payne added two hits, a run and an RBI. Hansen scored twice. Murphy and Max Wanser also drove in runs.
Wasilla will now move forward and play Cook Inlet Conference champion Chugiak Friday at 7 p.m. in the semifinals. The Warriors edged Chugiak early in the season during nonconference play. Chugiak beat North Pole 13-3 in the first round.
“Every time we play Chugiak it’s a tough battle,” Ottinger said.
With the win Thursday, Wasilla earned its third trip to the state semifinals since 2014.
Ketchikan 10, Colony 3
Southeast Conference champion scored a 10-3 win over Ketchikan during the first day of the state baseball tournament.
The Kings used a combined seven runs during the final three innings to move into a semifinal match with West Anchorage. Colony will play West Valley in an elimination game Friday at 10 a.m.
Ben Alley led Colony with two hits and an RBI. Bryant Marks added a run, hit and RBI for the Knights, the Southcentral Conference runner-up.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at email@example.com.